The Washington Post has claimed that the United States knew about a ploy by Saudi officials to capture journalist Jamal Khashoggi before he went missing.
“Before Khashoggi’s disappearance, U.S. intelligence intercepted communications of Saudi officials discussing a plan to capture him,” the Washington Post reported on Tuesday, citing a source familiar with the case.
Jamal Khashoggi was last seen a week ago entering the Saudi consulate in Istanbul to obtain documents related to his forthcoming marriage. His fiancée, waiting outside, said he never emerged and Turkish sources said they believe that Khashoggi, a prominent critic of Saudi policies, was killed inside the mission.
“It was not clear whether the Saudis intended to arrest and interrogate Khashoggi or to kill him, or if the United States warned Khashoggi that he was a target.”
A Turkish security source had previously said that a group of 15 Saudi nationals, including some officials, arrived in Istanbul and entered the consulate on Oct. 2, the same day Khashoggi was there, and later left the country.
Saudi officials have denied sending a 15-man squad to Istanbul on the day Khashoggi disappeared, stating that the only group dispatched to Turkey was comprised of investigators who arrived on Saturday to help find Khashoggi.
Khashoggi left Saudi Arabia last year saying he feared retribution for his criticism of Saudi policy over the Yemen war and its crackdown on dissent, and since then wrote columns for the Washington Post newspaper.
The Turkish government says it has seen no evidence supporting the Saudi claim that Khashoggi ever left the consulate alive.
Khashoggi’s fiancée backed this statement in a piece she penned for The Washington Post.
“This much is true: He entered the consulate, and there’s no proof that he came out,” wrote Hatice Cengiz.
Washington ready to assist in Khashoggi investigation
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Wednesday that Washington is ready to help in any way in the investigation of the disappearance of prominent Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Pence was asked on the Hugh Hewitt syndicated radio program if Washington would send FBI technicians to the Saudi consulate in Turkey if Saudi Arabia requested it. “I think the United States of America stands ready to assist in any way,” Pence said.